Author: Connor McNeely

Positionality of Film Festivals: Hierarchies of Attendees and Ranking of Importance

According to John Goldstein, managing partner of the Maple Theatre in West Bloomfield, Michigan, “Consumer habits are changing and the experience is becoming a bigger part of the equation.” The experience meaning the tangible perks audiences can engage with at a cinema aside from the film: reclining chairs, larger screens, alcoholic beverages, restaurant quality food and live music in the lobby, among other perks. Goldstein shared this observation during a cinema studies master class he gave at Oakland University in early 2015. Goldstein’s statement points to the constantly evolving film industry where its once highly anticipated and much talked about event, the midnight premier, has been eclipsed by the ultimate cultural experience for cinephiles: the film festival. According to Andy Swinnerton, Movie Pilot critic, “For as long as I can remember, a midnight premier was the ultimate litmus test for whether or not a movie could be counted as a ‘big deal’.”[i] More recently, the importance of a film is recognized by the buzz of its bootlegged festival screenings or the stamp of the Palme …